Interview with Call of Duty’s Chad Michael Collins

We were so excited to chat with Chad Michael Collins about his role as Alex on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. We are big fans of Chad’s here on TV Series Hub and our podcast Nerks of the Hub. Chad is not only the consummate professional, but he’s also one of the most genuinely kind people you’ll have the opportunity to meet. Make sure you’re following him on Twitter at @CollinsChadM 

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credit to Sonalii Castillo

You talk a lot about tabletop gaming online, in particular, your affinity for Magic: the Gathering. Were you also a fan of Call of Duty before getting cast as Alex?

 Oh yeah, I’m a hardcore tabletop gamer – Magic, Dungeons & Dragons. But I love video games too, and was definitely a fan of the Call of Duty games before I got the role of Alex. I went back and played all the previous Modern Warfare games once I was cast, and it was a fun trip down memory lane. 

This CoD is so lifelike, in large part to you and other cast members filming in motion-performance capture. Can you talk a little about what that experience was like?

 Yes, the game looks so lifelike and real – many people thought the game trailers and footage being released was for an actual movie. The process was fun, being on a mo-cap stage, having every movement and tiny facial expression captured. When you’ve got 50-plus cameras on you at all times, you’ve got to be on your acting toes because there’s no fixing your performance in the editing room, so it was a unique challenge.  

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Chad as Alex on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Did you work with other cast members while filming, or was this largely done independently?

It was all done with cast members, especially the group cinematic cut scenes. We were all present and making the magic together. We did a ton of additional voice-over lines to fill in the in-game situations but the bulk of our work was done together as a collective. 

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Many fans know you from Sony’s military action film series Sniper, in which you play Sgt Beckett. What similarities did you feel Beckett and Alex have and were you able to use any of your experience filming Sniper to do CoD?

 Yes, having done four Sony Sniper films and all of the military aspects that come with the territory, I felt very prepared and confident stepping into Alex’s boots. We had great former Navy SEAL advisers on the game, and they helped tease out the subtle differences between all of the characters. Alex being CIA and former Delta is different than Brandon being a Marine sniper, but it was also fun to see Alex in a sniper mission in the game. These elite warriors can do it all so that crossover was a bonus. 

Have you had the chance to play through CoD yet? If so what was the strangest thing about seeing/hearing yourself alongside your character?

Yes, I’ve played through it and I was just impressed at every level. Such a gritty, real, immersive experience, the way the game flows seamlessly like an interactive movie. It was fun to hear those hundreds of lines of voice-over dialogue kick in at times, during the shootouts or even during a quieter time in a mission. For the VO lines, you have less frame of reference when recording so they would pop up in-game and it would jog the memory. 

Ok, we all need to know now. Are you actually any good at playing CoD?

Well, I wouldn’t say that I’m good, but I’m proficient. Then again, I haven’t tried my hand at multiplayer, where the real experts come to play. I’m sure I would be exposed as a total novice against those hardcore players. 

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Chad as Alex on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

How did the experience of filming using motion capture compare to a normal shooting experience?

There are many similarities but also a lot of differences. For the game, you are being filmed at all times, from all angles, all at once. You are always “on” after action is called. For TV and film, you set up for one specific shot at a time. So it was unique in the sense that the game captured all shots at all times. It made the filming process go much faster, but we also had to bring our A-game each day.

You take a lot of time to communicate with fans using social media and are open about enjoying meeting them in real life. How have CoD fans received Alex and do you find that fan interaction to be different from ones from such shows as Once Upon a Time?

The response to Alex has been overwhelmingly positive. Many have told me how much they love the game, and how Alex was their favorite character. That’s rewarding, and I’ve found the Call of Duty fans to be incredibly kind and a pleasure to interact with. I hope to appear at some conventions soon to really interact with them face-to-face.

How long do you think you’d last in a zombie apocalypse?

I think I’d fare pretty well. I’m a former Boy Scout and country boy, so when things go south, I’ve got a decent skill set to work with. I’ve also read and watched all of The Walking Dead, so I’ve got lots of tips and research to draw from as well.

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Credit Doug Pasko

Can you tell us what projects you have coming up?

 I’ve currently got a holiday movie, The Christmas Cabin, streaming on Amazon, free for Prime members. Always nice to do some lighter fare mixed in with the action stuff. And there may be another Sniper film coming at you in 2020.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with fans?

A big thank you. The outpouring of love and appreciation for Alex and our game has been really amazing. It’s not ever lost on me that it takes an extra bit of effort to make a post or a comment about something you love, so when fans go out of their way to do that, it is always appreciated. We actors do this because we love it, but we also do it for an audience. So keep the comments coming, and we will keep doing what we do!